Remembering . . .


New York
Drag Strips

Stone, Woods & Cook A/GS Willys at New York National, 1966. Photographer unknown


  • Sheridan Drive, 1969
In the fall of 1969, after being declared 2A by Uncle Sam due to a life-long perforated eardrum, I landed work in Buffalo, New York. First, I got a job at a gypsy trucking company, but finally I got work with GM at their engine plant in Tonawanda. I got to know a guy, Tim, who was and is a pretty good wrench. We massaged the 325 horse engine in my '66 Chevelle SS 396 over a period of time. We made great money to waste on speed parts. I ended up with a higher lift cam, anti-pump lifters, Hedman headers, a 780 Holley carb, Pete Jackson gear drive timing assembly (with the neat whine) and 3:73 ration rear end. I also began dating a friend's sister-- Bonnie. The Chevelle was much quicker obviously, but no world shaker. I was about done with drag racing anyway, other than an occasional street dual.  And one of the popular areas for that was Sheridan Drive, a long boulevard in Buffalo.  One night Bonnie and I left a popular night spot on Sheridan around midnight. They had an 18 year old drinking age and the old Arrow Lounge did not check ID too closely anyway. So we went cruising up and down Sheridan. At a stop light, a very healthy small-block sound was coming from the 1954 (yes, '54) 4-door Chevy sedan beside me. Four or five young 'gangsta' types were in the car. It was a warm night, windows down, etc. After a few quick show-off takeoffs by  the '54, I decided to smoke those gentlemen at the next light. Bench-seat Chevelle, 4-speed Hurst shifter.  I nudged lovely brunette, 18-year-old Bonnie over so I could do my best 'Grumpy Jenkins imitation explosion shifting.'  The light changed, the automatic transmission '54 brown/primer old Bel Air blew outta there like a rail dragster. He had me by three car lengths before I went to 3rd gear. 1953 and 1954 Chevys were 6-cylinder only cars. Those guys shoehorned something that was 'major league' into the old beater. I never saw them again. And due to layoffs and other 'rather- not-discuss' issues in New York, I returned to Pennsylvania not long into early 1970. I have no idea what it was that they cobbled into the 1954 Chevy, but it was absolutely the ultimate sleeper that I ever encountered.
Dave Thompson

Center Moriches, Long Island

  • New York National Speedway, 1960s
I raced at National Speedway in the '60s. I ran a '63 Ford AA/SS. I came all the way from Edison, New Jersey, and won many times.
John Mikosz


  • Dunkirk Airport Drag Strip, 1960
In 1960, I won the Spring Nationals in E Stock Automatic with a 1950 Oldsmobile. 78 MPH, 17 seconds ET.
Gerry Gismondi
E/SA class winner trophy won by Gerry Gismondi in his 1950 Oldsmobile, Dunkirk Airport Drag Strip, 1960. Courtesy of Gerry Gismondi

Long Island

  • Islip Speedway Drag Strip, 1962-64
I raced Islip from 1962-1964. A 1962 Honduras Maroon, 380 hp, 409 Chevy Impala station wagon. I ran A-Stock the first year, then they switched classes around and we ended up running C-Stock. Held the C-Stock class record until the Speedway closed. We never lost at Islip and other tracks. I also won Stock Eliminator twice. Great car, great fun. Something I'll never forget. Raced every Friday & Sunday.
Michael Mattera
Michael Mattera's 1962 Chevy Impala wagon. Courtesy of Michael Mattera

Niagara Falls

  • Niagara Dragway, 1962
In 1962, my deceased buddy, Mike Sawyer, dragged his '38 channeled Ford coach with a 283 against "Deuces Wild" from Detroit at Niagara dragstrip. I believe it was called Hammans (sounded like that). It was the summer of 1962. We came over from Ontario, Canada. They kicked our assess! Saw Don Prudhomme that day blow up a rail dragster. Great times!
Bob Brockman
  • Niagara Dragway, 1965
In 1965 I beat 442's and GTO's for a trophy winner with my 1965 Corvette. In 1988 I received a call from a professor at UCLA who was writing an article for the Corvette Magazine on how to trace ownership of a Corvette to the original owner. Turns out he owned my 1965 Corvette. I sent him the trophy for which he was very thankful.
Gerry Gismondi

West Lebanon

  • Lebanon Valley Speedway
My home track was Lebanon Valley Speedway/Dragway. They brought in  a lot of 6-car funny car shows.  They also on a couple of occasions brought in dragster shows.  I still remember the time that they brought in "Big Daddy" Don Garlits and "TV" Tommy Ivo.  Big Daddy's rig was a small box trailer attached to a Cadillac.  Tommy had the Dodge cab-over with the glass box with two slingshots inside and the Corvette push car on the roof.  What an impressive rig!   Lebanon Valley was also Shirley Muldowney's home track. In her early days she was there almost every Sunday with her dragster.  She also came back for a couple of the Funny Car shows.
Michael Murphy


  • Dover Drag Strip, 1962
In 1962 on Mother's Day I raced my street-driven '61 409x409 Impala. I won A/S.
Albert Schaut
  • Dover Drag Strip, 1962-65
I volunteered at Westchester Automotive, from 1962-65. John [he was eccentric] & Joe [he was placid] were the owners. They ran a B/G, '40 Chevy called "Big Troubles." They ran mainly at Dover Drag Strip in New York.
Jim Scott-Monck